Independent Scholar

  • While president of Lake Forest’s Pride organization, Jared Fox ’09 decided to take his interest in civil rights and social justice beyond his Politics major. He designed an independent scholar major to look at the roles activism played in state legislation and decisions on gay marriage in Massachusetts and California.

Some of our strongest students find that no one traditional major fully meets what they want to study. A student interested in psychoneuroimmunology could major in psychology and biology but still might find his needs aren’t entirely met with those two departments alone.

Working with a faculty advisor, students accepted into the Independent Scholar program can develop their own major, culminating in a thesis or creative project. This major is compatible with the pursuit of a second major as well. 

The Independent Scholar Program emphasizes self-determination for its students. The responsibility for initiative lies with students, beginning with presentation of their case for admission to the program. Second-semester sophomores or first-semester juniors with a high GPA are invited to apply and submit a detailed presentation of their proposal. The Independent Scholar program takes place during the junior and senior years. Admission is determined by the Independent Scholar Committee. 

To your right, you’ll see the broad variety of majors that our Independent Scholars have completed in recent years. These majors have led to some fascinating senior theses, such as “European Federalism and the Social Welfare States: How Free Movement, Subsidiarity, and the ECB Affect Safety New Spending in the E.U.,” “Do Androids Joke of Electric Sheep? An Examination of the Theoretical and Technical Future of Figurative Language Computation,” “The Success of Mama Grizzlies: An Examination of the Intersection of Gender and Partisan Stereotyping at the Gubernatorial Level,” “Communal Pedagogy in Documenta 12,” and “Chicago’s Natural Aesthetic: A Study of Identity Through Columbus Park.”


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